Small Business Brief


How to Start Freelancing: The Best Way to Kickstart Your Freelance Career

Your day job makes you feel physically ill. You sit at work thinking; I must be sick. I need to go home.

Then you finish work, walk outside, and your icky feelings all vanish. Sound familiar?

This isn’t some strange virus – it’s a sign that you, truly, hate your job. Which may mean you need to look for a new one – or you need to learn how to start freelancing.

If you think it’s the second option, read our guide below.

Make a Plan

While some people are the just-go-for-it type, quitting your day job without a plan isn’t advisable. To go freelance full time you need to have a little nest egg built up and have some regular clients.

That’s to say you should start freelancing as a side-hustle before you go full time.

We know you hate your day job, but you’re going to hate not having money for rent more. Give yourself a goal number of clients or a monetary amount that means you can quit your job.

So maybe once you’re making $5000 a week on your side-hustle, then you can go full-time. Or once you have 12 regular clients – whatever it looks like for you.

You’ll still need to give your work a two or more week notice, depending on what’s expected in your profession. This is extremely important!

At this point you don’t know that you’ll like or succeed at freelancing, so you can’t afford to burn any bridges.

Define Your Ideal Client

If you could choose the creme de la creme of freelance clients, who would they be? Do you want to be giving talks for MLM companies? Or do you want to target church-goers?

This will differ based on the kind of freelance work you do, but the point stands.

You’re not going to get your ideal clients right away. You might not even get them in five years. But knowing who they are gives you something to work towards and helps you identify good clients right now.

Do the current clients you have access to have characteristics of your dream clients? Are they in the same sector? Can they help you get to your goal?

Only take clients that match the above questions – yes, even at first. We’ll talk about that next.

Say No to the Wrong Work

When you’re starting out, it can feel like you have to take whatever work comes your way. That’s one reason it’s so important to have your savings account built up before you quit your day job.

It’s hard to get rid of a client – and it’s bad for your reputation. You need to do your client research first and say no to those who don’t match your client vision.

Imagine that you take on whatever work you can. Now you have a client who you don’t like, but they’re happy with your work. Now imagine trying to tell them you don’t want to do work for them anymore.

How are they going to feel? More importantly, what are they going to write in your review? “I loved her work, but then she ditched me?”

Not exactly the kind of five-star review you were going for.

If you’re really in a pinch and can’t say no to the money – here’s what you can do. Tell the client that you’re not taking on new client’s, but you’re willing to do this one project for them.

Then let them know that you’ll tell them when you have an opening on your regular client list, and do the one-time work project.

You’re not being 100% honest, but you’re avoiding commitment. Yes – you can do that, even in your work life!

Ask for Help

Let’s say you do Freelance web design. You know someone who has a company or at least you know someone who knows someone that does, right?

And that person has a website for their company. Can you get their information and pitch your services?

They likely have a web designer they’re working with, but if that falls through, now they know you exist. You can also explain that you’re just starting and ask for them to refer you to their colleagues.

Word of mouth isn’t dead – it’s just written down through text messages and emails now.

Say No to Working for Free

A lot of people think that if they offer their services for free, then it’ll get them, clients. And it will – but not the kind of clients you want.

Here’s an example. How many times have you signed up for a free trial, just to get the starting offer, then canceled your subscription?

If you’re like the average American consumer (and you don’t forget to cancel) you’re probably guilty of this.

The same goes for the clients you attract when you offer services for free. Maybe they’ll be thrilled with your work – but who wants to pay 100% more than they did last time?

No one – that’s who.

Plus, working for free shows that you don’t value your work. Your work is valuable, and by valuable we mean it’s worth that cold, hard, cash.

Get in a Routine

Finally, you’re going to need to rethink your home office situation. Your house may be nice, but there are a lot of distractions there.

You have options, other than a coffee shop with $6 lattes. Learn more here.

How to Start Freelancing

If you’re the kind of person who can handle almost constant rejections (at the beginning) and can organize their time, then congratulations! Freelancing may be for you.

But if even if you read all the guides on how to start freelancing and do everything right – you might not love it.

That’s okay – it’s not for everyone (and that’s not a bad thing). Go cross back over those bridges you didn’t burn in the corporate world and get back to work.

We’ll still create content to support you either way.

Want to know what your work strengths and weaknesses are, so you can learn if freelancing is for you? Click here